The University of Wisconsin Press

From Jungle Fowl to City Chicks
Susan Troller
Art by S.V. Medaris
Additional Stories by Jane Hamilton, Michael Perry, and Ben Logan

“A loving paean to the surprisingly complex world of chickens. . . . If you own chickens, are considering bringing them into your life, or simply find them fascinating, you’ll crow over Cluck.”
—Judy Ettenhoffer, Capital Times

From barnyard to backyard, lowly hens have flown the country coop and joined the city chicken movement. A new generation of small-acreage farmers raising heritage breeds has inspired urbanites and suburbanites across America to install some poultry out back for eggs, meat, fertilizer, and cockeyed companionship. Whether the breed is Jersey Giant, Wyandotte, Buff Orpington, or Silver Frizzle Polish—chickens are now chic.

This is not a how-to book on raising chickens but rather a wry, fascinating, sometimes startling appreciation of them, conveyed in compelling accounts by Susan Troller and striking prints and paintings by S.V. Medaris. A bonus: chicken stories from three of Wisconsin’s most celebrated writers—Jane Hamilton (The Book of Ruth, A Map of the World), Michael Perry (Coop, Population 485), and Ben Logan (The Land Remembers)—round out the collection.

Susan Troller took an interest in chickens when she met Consuela, miraculous survivor of a mass gassing of laying hens at a factory farm. Susan lives on a farm near New Glarus, Wisconsin, with her chickens, dogs, cats, horses, and husband. She retired from a long career as a reporter on local food movements and K–12 education for Capital Times newspaper to open her own specialty store for chicken aficionados in Paoli, Wisconsin.

S.V. Medaris
is a keen observer of her art subjects—the livestock and pets on her farm in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin where she lives with her husband. Her art is included in collections in Holland, Japan, Spain, United Arab Emirates, USA, and in juried and invitational exhibitions in California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin.


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Of Related Interest:
Back to the Land
The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America
Dona Brown

“What a splendid account of a movement that’s usually caricatured. It taught me a lot about my state of Vermont, but also about the political and committed history of back-to-the-landers across American history. Forget your stereotype of the rugged individualist: this story turns out to be a lot more interesting than that!”
—Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

September 2012
LC: 2011004509 SF
128 pp.   8 1/2 x 10 1/3
Color illustrations throughout

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Paper $25.00 t
ISBN 978-0-9815161-3-4
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“Medaris is an extraordinary painter and printmaker who has a way of capturing chickens in all their absurdity and charm. . . . The art is reason enough to get the book. But you’ll also get a lovely collection of personal essays that cover Susan Troller’s experiences with chickens.”
Kirkus Reviews

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Updated May 22, 2012

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